This performance contained wonderful moments of improvisation mixed in with an overall storyline that is the same from show to show. A great joy.
The show is based on the TV series Knightmare, where contestants travelled through a dungeon meeting strange characters and solving puzzles. In the theatre the contestants are pre-selected audience members and the stage is filled with new props and actors each time they solve a puzzle. On stage, as with the TV show, the host is Treguard. He knows all of the dungeon’s secrets and escorts both contestants and the audience smoothly through proceedings.
Using audience members on stage means the show has to change each time it is performed. The solution to each puzzle is always the same, but the fun is in seeing how this group of adventurers go about solving it. All the performers have to react to what’s really happening in front of them. Their objective might be to help the dungeoneers or hinder them, but either way they can’t follow a pre-determined script.
The audience are involved in the show too. Shouting out suggestions for what should happen on stage, helping to solve the puzzles, and even offering items to help the adventurers on their quest. The dungeoneer Adele had to sing and draw to get her choice of a David-Bowie-inspired lighting bolt and a bright red beer hat. The beer hat came in useful in the later room when she gave it as a gift to a floating head in order to get deeper into the dungeon.
The flexibility in the performers and the engagement of the audience meant even the unintentional mistakes were a delight. When a mandolin was left on stage and misinterpreted as a possible clue, Tregard whipped it away so he could play a little tune. When a heartbeat sound effect wasn’t played over the speakers, the audience stamped their feet in rhythm to simulate the effect. In another setting these mistakes would take us out of the show, reminding us that we were seeing a rehearsed piece that had gone wrong somehow. In Knightmare Live, embracing these small failures made the experience unique and brought audience and performers closer together.
Knightmare Live will return for Level III at the Edinburgh Fringe
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